I am a Black man with an Explorer Mindset. But it wasn’t always like that.

When you enter new terrain as a Black person, you take the risk that racism will meet you there. You risk entering spaces and meeting people who believe nature only belongs to them, but it doesn’t. I remind myself that I also belong on the mountain or in the water or in the forest. I too have a right to adventure. As educators, it is so important that we help students push back against feelings that alienate them from spaces—especially public spaces. Educators can be conduits for students to embrace what they may not know about nature. Continue reading I am a Black man with an Explorer Mindset. But it wasn’t always like that.

What can we learn from the trees?

significant value in letting nature be our educator. Whenever I would take my students outside, new questions, observations and connections would arise. This led me to be flexible in my lessons and let the students’ inquiries shape our learning. Trees have always been a subject of interest for me, so when I noticed my class sharing the same passion, I knew that I had to act on it. It was time to center ourselves around the significance of the trees and the stories they have to tell. My class and I journeyed outside most days with the sole purpose to learn and develop a deeper meaning of the natural world. Thus, we became tree detectives, seeking to answer an essential question: What can I learn from the trees? Continue reading What can we learn from the trees?

Finding Peace in the Wild as Educators and Bringing the Wild to Our Students

Seeking knowledge and preparedness (my way of controlling what I could about venturing into the wild), I spent the months leading up to our tour of National Parks in the American West intently reading books and articles and watching documentaries about history, flora, fauna, and wildlife in the parks. I prepared but also braced myself for unpredictable experiences such as a grizzly bear encounter.  Continue reading Finding Peace in the Wild as Educators and Bringing the Wild to Our Students

How Planning Remote Plant-Based Lessons Made Me Into a Student Again

During a time when many of us were spending day after day in the same spaces, it felt vital to renew our appreciation of the outdoor spaces that were still accessible to us, like our own backyards. Quite literally. I leaned on the National Geographic Learning Framework as a guide to create lessons and activities that asked students to go outside and engage with the ecosystems surrounding them. I focused on fostering curious attitudes, observation skills, and knowledge of wildlife and our changing planet. Each week from March to the end of the school year, we released “Science at Home” lessons to support students exploring nature from home. The activities covered a range of topics from compost to pollinators and had options to scale up or down depending on grade level. Our lessons aimed to transform things we might encounter every day into fun activities. A dandelion in the park could now be used for an experiment on osmosis, made into a nature bracelet, or baked into a cookie. Continue reading How Planning Remote Plant-Based Lessons Made Me Into a Student Again

#ThatsGeography: How I use VR in Cross-Curricular Teaching (It’s Easier Than You Think!)

This post was written by educator Katie Harnish. Near the school where I teach, the kids live in a lot of high-density housing and have limited access to green space. My school sits on a big campus and I thought it was a real opportunity for students to go out and explore, take an explorer mindset, and make a guidebook to teach others about our … Continue reading #ThatsGeography: How I use VR in Cross-Curricular Teaching (It’s Easier Than You Think!)